Student’s dilemma: Public relations or print journalism?

By Liz Allen
Online Reporter Project

Kimmi Baston, a rising senior at Waynesburg University, isn’t sure whether she will wind up with a career in newspapers or public relations. She just knows she wants a job that allows her to pursue her passion for writing.

Baston, 20, is the winner of the annual $1,500 scholarship presented by the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She attended the PWPA lunch on Saturday with her parents, Ray and Barb Baston, of North Huntingdon. Baston knows that it’s tough to land an entry-level job in journalism. “I’m definitely worried,” she said. Yet her parents aren’t concerned about her career path. “They always encourage me to do whatever makes me happy,” she said.

Baston, executive editor of the school newspaper, the Yellow Jacket, said she learned important skills when she covered a story about the university’s D-III baseball team. The NCAA had sanctioned the program for practice violations.

Finding sources to speak on the record at a private university was difficult. “The coach and the athletic director stonewalled me,” she said. The newspaper’s adviser worked with her to figure out the best route to pursue the story, and the university’s NCAA compliance officer agreed to talk.

“Persistence is essential,” she said. “When a story needs to be told, you can’t give up.”

The PWPA award is the third scholarship Baston has won this semester. She also received a $2,500 scholarship from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and a $2,500 scholarship from the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, according to the Observer-Reporter in Greene County. She will be working as an intern for UPMC this summer.


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